Giving to the Lord in a Pandemic

We are in very unusual times. I don’t believe that our world has seen such global turmoil in a very long time. As we have heard from our missionaries over the last few weeks, it seems all of them are dealing with the same restrictions in meeting and connecting with their church families. Some are able to function as we are, with online tools. Others do not have that luxury, one missionary said that only about 10% of their people have internet access or cell phones.

Because of the fear of COVID-19, much of our world has gone into lock-down. Businesses, if not considered “essential” by government agencies, are shutting down, others are trying to be creative to find ways to survive.  

And of course, this all affects God’s people, along with our neighbours and friends. Church gatherings have come to a halt and we are left with livestreaming our services and/or recorded messages. It is not ideal, but at least we can stay connected to our church and be reminded that the work of God continues in spite of world events.

With the ongoing work of God comes the need for God’s people to continue to stand behind our church and its ministries with our tithes and offerings. GVBC has done all we can to facilitate ways for our members and friends to continue to be faithful in our giving to the Lord. You can give online, email transfer funds, use our new myGVBC app, even mail in your giving envelopes or drop them off at the church building. The mechanics of the giving process may have changed and adapted, but the responsibility of us as individual believers remains steadfast.

But in such uncertain times, we all wonder what God’s wants us to do. How am I supposed to give when my circumstances are so unsettled, when I am facing layoffs or worse? Does God have a word for us? I believe He does.

GOD’S TITHE

Everything we have, every dollar we earn, is given to us from the hand of our gracious and loving Lord. And we, who have been bought with a price, belong to Him. He is our Father and we are His children and the sheep of His pasture. Many centuries ago, the LORD established that the tithe – ten percent of our gross income -  was to be returned to Him. We are instructed to bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse.

Leviticus 27:30  And all the tithe of the land, whether of the seed of the land, or of the fruit of the tree, is the LORD’S: it is holy unto the LORD.

This is a marvelous design by a loving Heavenly Father. The tithe is a perfect and workable standard for every individual. It is a percentage that will fit every income level no matter how little or how much is being earned.

So we can be encouraged to keep obeying the Lord in this, even during times when we experience financial setbacks. God does not expect me to tithe on what I do not have. If you have found yourself laid off and are now living on E.I. or other government assistance, the Lord’s standard is still the same. It is plain that He does not require that my tithe now match my tithe of my full employment days.

However, I think we must also beware of thinking that because I have taken a blow to my income, that God gives me a “pass” on tithing. That attitude robs God, and will rob you and me of seeing God provide even in difficult times.

Malachi 3:8-10  Will a man rob God? Yet ye have robbed me. But ye say, Wherein have we robbed thee? In tithes and offerings.  9  Ye are cursed with a curse: for ye have robbed me, even this whole nation.  10  Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the LORD of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it.

My obedience in tithing always comes with God’s promise to supply all of my needs. The days of financial difficulties are days to trust the Lord and believe that He will indeed see me through as He has promised.

FAITH PROMISE MISSIONS GIVING

For many who are reading this, the question of our commitment to give to missions over and above the tithe weighs heavily upon us. That amount I have committed is not tied to a percentage of my income. I stepped out in faith as I felt God leading me, to stretch my giving in a good time to support the work of world evangelism. But now, I am facing this new reality, what am I to do?

The first step in all of this is to pray. I mean, really pray.
  1. Continue to pray for the sending out of the gospel into all the world. But more than that:
  2. Pray for our missionary family. The people and families we know. Pray for their churches, their needs including their financial needs.
  3. Read their letters, try to envision yourself far away from the security of home, labouring to reach communities with the good news.
  4. This pandemic will have an impact on all of our missionaries and their support levels. We need to pray for God to intervene on their behalf.
  5. In a time when we are told to distance ourselves, don’t distance yourself from our missionaries.

The next step is to pray – yes, it is the same as the first step.
  1. Ask God to help you continue to trust Him to meet your needs as we give to meet the needs of His servants around the world.
  2. Don’t hesitate to pour out your concerns to the Lord and then listen to the Holy Spirit as He directs your path.
  3. A Faith Promise Commitment is an anonymous commitment to everyone else but the Lord. I know that I can trust Him to help me to know what He wants me to do in this.
  4. Please, it is so important that you let the Lord show you His will for you. As pastor, I want you to be able to give in settled peace and joy, not in fearfulness and resentment.
  5. I am confident that God will meet missionary needs with or without me. But I want to be able to trust Him as those in 2 Corinthians 8, the churches of Macedonia who were able to give out of their deep poverty. Or the widow who the Lord Jesus said gave more than anyone because she gave her all to Him.
  6. And could I suggest that maybe your job status is secure, your income has not been impacted – rejoice! Could it be that the Lord would lead you to add a bit to your own Faith Promise commitment to help when others may have to cut back?

This whole pandemic journey is a journey of faith. So many areas of our lives that have been totally uprooted and tossed around. Whether you continue to give your full commitment, or find that you must cut back some, or stop altogether, make that decision with His clear direction and peace and you will find His grace sufficient.

THE SPIRIT OF COMPASSION

In these uncertain days, all of us struggle to balance the mindset of self-preservation and a heart of compassion toward those whose needs are even greater than ours.

I am convinced that a part of my giving to the Lord involves my giving in His name to help others. It may be through groceries or a meal. Helping to pay a Fortis or BC Hydro bill or put gas in a vehicle. It may be all you can do to buy an extra jug of milk to give to neighbour, but let us look to the Lord for His grace to remain sweet and loving and to be His vessel of mercy to someone else – and not always just someone who shares our faith or church.

And that spirit of compassion may not involve a financial consideration. It could be a helping hand, a friendly chat (with appropriate distance) or an encouraging text or email.

There are so many questions that confront us all. So many fears, concerns and harsh realities. Let us all be reminded that the Lord has not forsaken us and He has indeed promised to supply all our need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.

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